Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A New Sensation? Issue #32




Oh yeah, I should probably tell you that I went snowboarding for the first time this past weekend when my family was in town.


It was really fun and I think I'm addicted now despite ignoring my friends warnings of me being so. I hit the ground so hard one time I thought I broke all my front teeth when I face-planted coming down the bunny hill. That would not be a good thing other than my drummer Ian saying at least then I could pass for Shane McGowan of the POUGES. Gotta get a board, and gotta do it again soon...

With the family in town this past week, I really didn't make much advancement on the songwriting front that I hope to make this week and talk about in the next issue, but I was reminded of part of my musical history you may find entertaining.

It's a story not many people know, and one that usually only comes out after I've had a few beers. So, I'll have you know this...I ONCE TRIED OUT TO BE THE LEAD SINGER OF INXS.

O.k, you done laughing? Good...I'll continue my story, thank you.

It was September 2004 and my band of 13 years (Laymans Terms) had just broken up. A year and a half prior to disbanding, I really got into INXS and suggested covering a song for the next show on the calendar. We choose off "Kick", and over the next year it would become one of the highlights of the set. I would often tell the guys that the band sounded new to me (even though they are often credited as being co-architects of the 80's sound), and that I wouldn't doubt if someday they got back together to fill the musical void created by their absence.

It wasn't long after my prediction (6 months) when upon browsing the internets I found that INXS was looking for a new singer. I then saw that they were coming to Seattle's EL CORAZON club for auditions in two months which gave me about a month to prepare.

Prepare for what you ask?

Well, whenever we performed our INXS cover it freed me up on stage in a way that I had never experienced before. Having always been the lead singer that also played guitar, being JUST THE VOCALIST was a new and exciting experience that I found myself craving more and more and seeing as uncharted territory in my growth as a performer.
Combine this with my new obsession in INXS's music, and I only had one choice...


Let me preface this by saying that I had been someone that hated stuff like this; the what I thought of as an "unnatural" bringing together of musical entities through a cattle-call type atmosphere. Still, though it bothered me a little, I couldn't wait for the experience. Was the band going to be there? What were they looking for?
I didn't know, but I did spend hours watching live DVD's and listening to albums not to "be what they wanted", but more to understand more about the band I had already deemed as my new obsession months prior.

The instructions were simple, come prepared to play 3 songs with either your instrument, or recorded music to sing along to. Oh yeah, and knowing an INXS song or two wouldn't hurt. Prepared for anything, I kissed my new wifey goodbye and drove downtown on a FREEZING February morning. After parking, I realized I left my jacket at home but figured it wouldn't be a big deal since I could just go right inside. I mean would anybody really even be there?


Glazed over with a case of "what the hell?!?", I got in a line that wrapped around the building and proceeded to wait in the 35 degree weather with my guitar and a T-shirt.
Of course, I had a cast of characters around me to keep me entertained while I waited in line outside for 2 FREAKING HOURS. There was the 60-something man who had been "The Biggest INXS Fan" out of all of his friends his whole life, the young punk kid who would love to be in the band but definitely "wouldn't just do what they told him to do and sing", the goth-chick, and a guy in blue sweats who brought his ukulele to play. Frostbite scars are sexy if you didn't already know...

Once we finally got in (they were taking groups of 10), we were told to fill out an application (can't feel my fingers), and sign a discloure agreement in case our audition was shown on TV...


Once all paperwork was filled out we were taken to the stage area where a year earlier LT had rocked the house; only now it was covered with video cameras and producer types sitting behind piles of applications and monitors that were focused close-up on applicants singing on stage. Was the band here? What kind of people were trying out? That's not even worth taking up space on the internets for or wasting your time.

ANSWER: Any kind you can think of.

When I knew I was 3 spots away from trying out (oh look, there's the ukulele guy), I began frantically trying to recall my songs and lyrics when my brain thought it would be funny to hide them from me in THE WORST TIME POSSIBLE.

I gathered my thoughts when my name was called, took my guitar up and answered a few questions about where I was from and how old I was. Once I was prompted, I then started a song you now know as "Tonight" off SONGS FROM THE ORANGE ROOM.
I had just started the 2nd verse when I got a "thanks that's enough" from the producer-types, and was escorted off the stage and out the back door of the club where all the other would be INXS-ers were comparing notes on the whole experience.

I walked to my car while trying to process what had exactly happened from the point I got in line to the present. Did they like it? What the hell was the camera set up for? Disclosure agreement? The one thing that made me feel slightly better about the audition was the fact that I got to play longer than most people did. Also, while filling out paperwork in the lobby we were told that the following night we would get a callback if they were interested. Hmmmm....

As you can imagine, it was the predominant thought on my mind over the next day and a half until the night the callbacks would happen. My phone was glued to my hand when I received a call from an unknown number. The voice asked for me and told me that I was invited to come back in the morning for a "semi-final" audition.


The only bad thing was that it was @ 7:00 AM sharp, and that I needed to learn 5 INXS songs by then. Frantically I cued up the DVD and tried to sing along long into the night until it was at the point where either I knew it or I didn't.

I showed up the next morning to a room of 15 other applicants (some of who I remembered as singing REALLY well), more cameras, more producer types, but still no band.
They then went through this whole thing of how they really wanted to see what else we had to offer performing wise and that we should be proud we got called back. Me, I still had questions of what I got "called back" to...

I was the first to go, and stood on stage while they asked a little more about me again. I felt it was going fine and felt comfortable until the producers started making "Kyle" South Park jokes and I obviously wasn't getting them. They asked me if I watched the show and when I said no, looked at me in awkward silence as if I had a baby arm growing out of my head and it was waving to everybody.

As you can imagine...it got awkward.

I ran through part of "Tonight" again, and then was asked which of the 5 INXS songs I would like to start with. I was most comfortable with "Need You Tonight" from playing with LT, and the music was cued up but not in the key I was familiar singing it in. I did alright but the whole time felt like I was in the twilight zone and looking at myself from the outside. Hard to explain, fun, and uncomfortable all at the same time.

When I was done (insert scattered clapping) I was invited upstairs for a "post-performance" interview with the Producer of the how...SHOW?!? Yep, it all made sense now. I was told that this was to be an American Idol-like show in which 10 singers living under one roof would all compete for the spot as the next singer of INXS. As I walked up the stairs heading to the interview area, I felt like I had been duped more with each step. The Producer (female) sat me down tuRned on the lights, signaled the camera guy to start filming, and began what was one of the most bizarre conversations I had been involved in. She would ask the usual get to know you questions with a pleasant demeanor while being very professional. Out of nowhere, she became very intense asking me questions about my family constantly interrupting
me, and again would switch emotions unnaturally. This time she was very flirty touching my leg while asking if I was married before switching to almost being comically emotionally distressed while describing her job and the tryouts that had been going on in every city. As you can imagine...IT WAS FREAKY.

She thanked me for my time and I left very confused. A few days later, I was almost 100 percent certain that her behavior was a test to see how I would react to different emotional responses, and to make sure I wasn't a psycho (I am). Before I left the interview she also told me that they would evaluate everyone from the semi-finals before calling those that would live in the house and compete, and that those calls would be made in a few months.

Over the next few weeks I had a wide mix of emotions ranging from weirdly competitive (I wanted the spot) to slightly ashamed and disgusted (why did I do that?).
Obviously I didn't make it into the house which is a good thing 'cause I'd probably be the most boring house mate since "Andre" in REAL WORLD Season 1 (it's a long summer when you're 12).

It did however provide useful as it solidified what I felt was important to me in music and carrying your integrity through a business that would hope to destroy all that you hold inside of you if it could (just the facts ma'am). Though singing for the band would have been AMAZING, the whole house and competition reality show thing isn't my style. Also, why wasn't the band at the auditions? Too weird...

Lead singer for INXS? Not in this lifetime, but I was fortunate to get a good story and a memory that will last a long time. Also, maybe it was only for the purpose to show me that you NEVER NEVER NEVER wear sweatpants on stage. That is unless you are also playing a Ukulele. That = AWESOME.



1 comment:

Martín said...

I'm an INXS fan and i like to invite everybody to my INXS forum, there you can find rare stuff (for free, of course) as many bootlegs concerts and rare and live videos too in direct download (Rapidshare & Megaupload), so come on and join us!